Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Polytechnic and teachers’ colleges should stick to their educational mandate of providing certificates and diplomas and not try straying into offering degree programmes, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Professor Amon Murwira said there was no justification for polytechnic and teachers’ colleges to deviate from their initial mandate. Prof Murwira said this on Tuesday while addressing university vice chancellors, principals of polytechnic colleges and teachers’ colleges, lecturers and captains of industry during an interface meeting with President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“We have had calls of polytechnic and teachers’ college(s) trying to offer degrees; we are saying no!” he said. “You will continue doing what you have been providing. Polytechnic colleges, teachers’ colleges and universities were never created by mistake. I think the time of silence is gone.” Prof Murwira said Government would soon make sure that it trained science teachers to improve the quality of science education. He said there was need for the country to transform its high literacy rate into economic development.
“We have to be on target. The issue is that we cannot go to school for the sake of going to school: we have to show something, we have to show the worth of our investment. Gowns and certificates are nice, but if these certificates are not represented in the brain, it means we will be where we started. We are basically saying literacy is fine, but it is just a precondition of things to come. Yes, we can read and write letters, but at the end of the day we need goods and services,” he said.
“I think the time for feel-good mentality is gone; we have to challenge ourselves to grow the economy. It is now time to transform that brain into goods and services.” There was need, said Prof Murwira, to take a deliberate approach into research.
University of Zimbabwe vice chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura said institutions of higher learning had embraced President Mnangagwa’s leadership philosophy as the most viable vehicle to optimise the delivery of services to society and the nation.
“We totally agree with you that higher and tertiary education is the most powerful weapon in alleviating poverty, elevating economic growth, creating a health and enlightened society and a self sufficient nation,” said Prof Nyagura. He said vice chancellors of universities had established a taskforce that spearheaded the transformation initiative to stimulate their participation in economic development.
“The main goals of the establishment of the taskforce and transformation of higher education and industrialisation and modernisation was to initiate the process of profound and radical change in higher education,” said Prof Murwira.
“The change orients the sector in a new participatory direction that takes universities in an entirely different level of effectiveness in the delivery of services to the Zimbabwean society and the nation.” Prof Nyagura said the objective involved a change in mindset and curriculum structure through making universities use the most recent technology and develop demand-driven graduates.
“The implementation of this transformation is guided by agreed action, which all participating members have to effect in their universities. We agreed that radical changes must take place in their universities,” he said. Captains of industry called for institutions of higher learning to offer courses that were responsive to the aspirations of the market.